Looking for a place to unwind after a long day at work? Tired of revisiting your usual bars? We have reviewed the best Izakaya Singapore has to offer as izakaya is the perfect setting to gather your friends or your dates for casual drinking and eating.
Izakaya is made up of words “stay”, “alcohol/sake”, and “shop”, resulting in its definition as “a place to stay and drink alcohol”.
History of Izakaya
During the Edo period, the Japanese were fond of gathering together in groups to bond over sakes. Soon, snacks were included in these places to complement the drinks, satisfying the hungry customers who would often stay way past midnight.
In the 1970s, izakayas became a cultural norm for the working class to drink after work. More of these shops were developed with larger rooms to accommodate bigger groups, and menus were flooded with a variety of affordable snacks.
These small bites are similar to Spanish tapas, which meant to be sharing dishes like meat skewers, fries, croquettes, and even sushi. Every menu is different, and some establishments even have their specialities to offer. Although originally a sake bar, izakayas often sell Japanese beers, wines, whiskies and other alcoholic beverages too.
Unsurprisingly, the concept of a relaxing and comforting place to unwind after work has gained international popularity. Izakayas can be found all over the world today, and Singapore is no exception.
7 Best Izakayas in Singapore
The izakaya culture in Singapore has grown significantly over the past decades, and many local bars have adapted its concept into their brand. This list offers the best izakayas for the best alcoholic beverages and food that are certainly worth the visit after work.
Shukuu Izakaya Japanese Izakaya & Sake Bar
Shukuu Izakaya is renowned for being perhaps the best sake bar in Singapore. From its aesthetic interior to the range of sakes available, being in this establishment teleports you into Japan for those few hours.
Founded by four friends who share a passion for Japanese culture and cuisine, you might not find a more authentic izakaya experience here in Singapore.
All the ingredient for Shukuu’s extensive food menu is air-flown from Japan, ensuring only the freshest quality is served on every plate. Their recipes come from years of experience from the local owner-chefs who have worked at Japanese restaurants and mastered the art of the delivering quality Japanese food that taste as good as they look.
From a range of hot and cold appetisers to their popular skewer dishes, these snacks are perfect for sharing. If you are looking for something heavier at dinner time, Shukuu also offers main dishes like bento sets and other noodle dishes.
The main attraction of this establishment, however, is the variety of sakes available. Whether you are an experienced sake drinker or a complete novice, you will certainly find an enriching sake experience here at Shukuu.
The enthusiastic in-house sommeliers will gladly impart their knowledge of all the sakes available on their menu, from the popular ones to the more expensive and rare labels from the corners of Japan.
Shukuu is not simply a bar that serves food and drink but promises an educational journey of sakes for anyone interested. Although its sakes are not the cheapest you could find in Singapore, they are still reasonably priced, and many still prefer to pay the extra dollar for the complete izakaya experience.
|Address||8 Stanley St, Singapore 068727|
Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant may not be the most talked about on social media, but this restaurant is one the not-to-be-missed if you find yourself in town. As its name suggests, it specialises in sumiyaki, translated from the Japanese language as “charcoal-grilled” or “charcoal-roasted”.
Tucked away in the fourth floor of Cuppage Plaza, this little gem has remained popular by word of mouth for its delectable food. Kazu Restaurant guarantees a fulfilling yet affordable Japanese food experience.
Unlike the traditional izakaya, this establishment takes pride in its food over the range of alcoholic beverages available. Their variety of mouth-watering grilled items from chicken thigh to wagyu beef skewers will send you to gastronomical heaven.
Among the most popular dishes here are the foie gras yakitori and okonomiyaki balls. These must-try items are creative recreations of the classic Japanese dishes that have lured old and new customers alike for years.
Of course, no dining experience at an izakaya is complete without an alcoholic beverage. Sakes and Japanese beer are available to wash down the sumiyaki dishes, making it the perfect setting to kick back and relax with friends.
As the restaurant is quite small, we recommend making a booking beforehand to avoid disappointments. Even during weeknights, you would be lucky to find empty seats during dinner time!
|Address||5, #04-05 Koek Rd, Cuppage Plaza, 228796|
This izakaya restaurant boasts a variety of food options. Still, its main feature is undoubtedly the range of Japanese bites, or tapas, that customers can share along with their decent selection of sakes.
Katanashi An lives up to the authentic izakaya experience as a vibrant place for friends to gather over Japanese food and alcohol. Although relatively small, the atmosphere here is inviting and cosy enough for customers to experience a satisfying izakaya experience.
This restaurant might not have the most comprehensive menu, but what they lack in quantity has been made up by quality. Among the top dishes to try are the traditional Japanese tapas like chicken karaage, gyozas, and croquettes.
These simple dishes are not always well executed in many Japanese restaurants, however, Katanashi An, being first and foremost an izakaya, takes pride in these snacks and it is evident in the quality of their food.
Here, the range of sake options is quite decent. Do not hesitate to ask for any recommendations if you are not familiar with what sakes are available, but you can hardly go wrong with the recommended Takezake. Other alcoholic drinks like highballs, beers, wines, and an assortment of Japanese cocktails can also be a good alternative if you prefer something different.
Besides being a casual dining and drinking izakaya in the evening, Katanashi An has also established itself as a popular lunch spot for its attractive lunch sets. These deals include its featured dons with side dishes that are delicious and will not burn a hole in your pocket.
|Address||1 Boon Tat St, Singapore 069611|
Kamoshita lives up to the traditional izakaya-style as a sake drinking experience where the food complements the beverage. Here, the wide range of sakes will leave you spoilt for choice, serving up only the best from Japan.
This establishment takes pride in offering Singaporeans a taste of Japanese culture, ensuring a service concept of “hospitality with a heart of gold”, just the way an izakaya in Japan would do it.
Led by two chefs and owners Koki Miyoshi and Naoki Kaiyama, Kamoshita specialises in their oden dishes. This classic Japanese dish often served in winter makes it perfect for Singaporeans who love a heart-warming and homely soup dish. Inside a delightful brown broth includes an assortment of ingredients like fishcake, daikon, and eggs.
There aren’t many oden establishments around Singapore, and definitely not many who makes a broth as flavourful as Kamoshita. Its range of oden snacks are popular among customers as well; these are unique small dishes (onsen egg, radish, fish cake, dumpling) that you won’t find in many other izakayas around Singapore.
Even if you’re not up to choose your dishes from the extensive food menu, opt for the omakase and let the chef decides your meal for the evening.
Indeed, Kamoshita brings a taste of Japan to your doorstep. The chefs painstakingly brought the experience of their home country here; any more authentic and you’d have to fly to Japan!
Moreover, in true izakaya fashion, the sake selection will leave you spoilt for choice from the premium to the more affordable ones. Patient servers will aid you in your selection process, so don’t feel too pressured.
A warm sake paired with savoury oden sounds like the perfect dinner to end a long day.
|Address||5 Neil Rd, Singapore 088806|
Box n Sticks
Entering this small but cosy izakaya establishment takes you straight to the streets of Japan with many Japanese posters plastered on the walls and a quaint kitchen area like street food stalls.
Hidden away near Haji Lane, Box n Sticks is usually filled to the brim with hungry customers, and many would have been lucky to chance upon this unassuming izakaya while strolling along the streets.
While this restaurant is also a popular lunch spot for its lunch sets, it has established itself as an affordable izakaya where people can let their guard down after work to drink beer and sake along with a mountain of Japanese bites.
The foods you can find here at Box n Sticks are unpretentious, straightforward Japanese delights, including a variety of sushi, sashimi, maki, and grilled skewers. It is also huge on main dishes like donburis and fusion pastas for those who prefer something weightier.
Among the must-try dishes is its signature Buta Kakuni Buns, which is their version of the kong ba bao. Also, the Tamago Mentaiyaki that is essentially the classic Japanese egg filled with luscious cod roe.
Instead of focusing on sake as the primary alcoholic option, the bar serves a good variety of both beer and sake. To elevate the element of fun into the izakaya concept, this innovative establishment offers some games for its customers, from rolling dices to get discounts to spinning and shooting at a wheel for food redemption.
|Address||28 Kandahar St, Singapore 198889|
JiBiru Yakitori & Craft Beer
Although izakayas are traditionally known for their sakes, JiBiru takes a turn where the alcohol is concerned and prides itself as a Japanese craft beer bar. Still holding to the izakaya philosophy of a place to drink and eat, JiBiru substitutes the sake for beer, attracting beer lovers to enjoy a unique izakaya experience.
Bringing the special yakitori dishes from the Saitama region north of Tokyo, JiBiru uses pork and chicken rather than using the latter as traditionally used. Choose from a variety of yakitori delights that only guarantees the freshest of ingredients from Japan.
What’s more, the sauces that complement the meat are imported from Japanese yakitori restaurants, bringing the authentic flavours to our doorstep. Other side dishes include the typical izakaya dishes like gyoza, tempura, and the more filling Japanese curries.
If you are more of a beer than a sake person, then this is the perfect place for you. The 10 Japanese craft beer choices are carefully selected from the corners of Japan, infused with unique ingredients that make the beers excellent companions alongside the food.
Moreover, some of the craft beers have been inspired by sake ingredients, giving them unique fusions of taste that is at once distinctly Japanese yet pleasantly unfamiliar.
|Address||313 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238895|
Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai
Having served authentic Okinawan cuisine for several years now, this diner has attracted customers not for the typical Japanese cuisine that Singapore has come to love. Instead, being a tropical island away from the densely populated areas of Japan, Okinawa has formed its own unique food culture, and Okinawan Diner has brought it from its shores to ours.
Okinawans believe that their food and sake are not only delicious but also beneficial for one’s health and beauty. Most of the classic Japanese dishes here have been tweaked with a touch of Okinawan spices and additional ingredients, giving them a distinct flavour and even texture to some of them.
Perhaps the most popular appetiser and Okinawan is the Green Caviar-Seaweed with Ponzu Sauce, which pops in your mouth with saltiness and some citrus notes from the sauce. Furthermore, they also serve Japanese stir-fried dishes that are more akin to Chinese cuisine (given Okinawa’s close proximity to China).
But among the most popular dishes is the simmered pork belly that is marinated to perfection and tender all the way through. These small dishes are unique alternatives to the traditional izakaya dishes, and is certainly one to put on this list.
Even when it comes to alcohol, Okinawan Diner stays true to its roots. From beers to sochus, to sakes, this establishment brings only the best alcoholic beverages unique to Okinawa. This certainly will give you an izakaya experience like no other!
|Address||1 Kim Seng Promenade # 01-107 / 108 Great World City, 237994|